Contemporary Approaches to Preventing and Treating Infections of Novel Intrathecal Neurostimulation Devices

Sean J. Nagel, Leonardo Frizon, Tanmoy Maiti, Andre G. Machado, George T. Gillies, Logan Helland, Royce W. Woodroffe, Matthew A. Howard, Saul Wilson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


Introduction: Contemporary approaches to surgical site infections have evolved significantly over the last several decades in response to the economic pressures of soaring health care costs and increasing patient expectations of safety. Neurosurgeons face multiple unique challenges when striving to avoid as well as manage surgical implant infections. The tissue compartment, organ system, or joint is characterized by biological factors and physical forces that may not be universally relevant. Such implants, once rare, are now routine. Although the prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of surgical site infections involving neural implants has advanced, guidelines are ever changing, and the incidence still exceeds acceptable levels. We assess the impact of these factors on a new class of implantable neuromodulation devices. Methods: The available evidence along with practice patterns were examined and organized to establish relevant groupings for continuing evaluation and to propose justifiable recommendations for the treatment of infections that might arise in the case of intradural spinal cord stimulators. Results: Few studies in the modern era have systematically evaluated preventive behaviors that were applied to intradural neural implants alone. We anticipate that future efforts will focus even more on the investigation of modifiable factors along a continuum from bacterially repellant implants to weight management. Early diagnosis could offer the best hope for device salvage but to date has been largely understudied. Conclusions: Historically, prevention is the cornerstone to infection mitigation. However, immediate diagnosis and hardware salvage have not received the attention deserved, and that approach may be especially important for intradural devices.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)e397-e408
JournalWorld neurosurgery
StatePublished - Aug 2019
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
We thank the University of Iowa graphic artist Shawn Roach for the rendering of the I-Patch device shown in Figure 3.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2019 Elsevier Inc.


  • Biofilm
  • Deep brain stimulation
  • Intradural device
  • Spinal cord stimulation
  • Surgical site infections


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